New wheels, funding for children’s home

St Michael’s Child and Youth Care Centre staff were handed over the keys to a new minibus at an Ottery car dealership. Picture: Janice Matthews

A Plumstead children’s home has a new minibus and much-needed building renovations are on the cards thanks to R1.8 million in funding from the National Lotteries Commission (NLC).

The funding will also ensure that St Michael’s Child and Youth Care Centre’s staff get their salaries this year, says the home’s executive director, Rosemary Tsaurai.

The home is a place of safety for 30 girls aged 13 to 18 who have faced neglect, abuse and abandonment.

“There is no one out there and nowhere to go back to because maybe their parents are on the streets or on drugs; they are moving from one place to the next,” said Ms Tsaurai.

“Our vision is about reclaiming the true essence of being a young woman because when the girls come, they’re broken, malnourished – things have just been going really wrong in their lives. There is no one to really care. No one cares if they have gone to school today or not.”

However, finances were a constant struggle, and the home relied on fund-raising to sustain itself, she said.

“We survive on a year-to-year basis. It depends on where we get our donations from, where do we get our grants from. For this year, we can say we are covered, renovations will be done, some maintenance needs will be done and salaries are covered for this year so that is a relief. So then we start hustling again for next year.

“I applied to NLC in 2021, and we were successful, but their funds had depleted. So last year, we did another application and we were successful. In that application, we explained our needs. Things like the renovation of the building we never have money to do. So those were the things we applied for, and we applied for the vehicle, and also staff salaries because we only get about 50% from the Department of Social Development, and the requirement is that the other 50% comes in as donations to run the home. We were awarded for the car, and part of the salaries, and part of the renovation for the building. We got about R1.8 million.

“For our renovations, we are just waiting for the rainy season to end. Our windows no longer close: they have rusted so part of the renovation will be our windows and the cupboards for the girls’ rooms.”

The renovation would most likely start next month, she said.

The home sold its 14-seater minibus in December because it was more than 20 years old and servicing had been needed almost monthly, she said.

St Michael’s social worker Chrystelle Deklerk said the home had been hiring transport to get the girls to school and various activities, which had been a drain on its resources.

Chris King, an advisory board member for the home, said they were very grateful for the funding.

“The service that the home provides to the community is actually quite unique in so much as it’s only for teenage girls. To see them struggle, it detracts them from what they are meant to do.”

Odaho Ntsana, from the NLC, said: “We channel funding to good causes, and what we really look forward to is the positive impact that they can make on the communities that surround them.”